Microwaves in organic and medicinal chemistry

Microwaves in organic and medicinal chemistry 
C Oliver Kappe et al 
Weinheim, Germany: Wiley-VCH | 2005 | 422 pp | ?100 (HB) | ISBN 3527312102 

Reviewed by Craig Butts

About five years ago I bought my first microwave oven for the sole purpose of heating a Christmas pudding in under an hour and subsequently I have microwaved my way through most of the foodstuffs available at the local supermarket. Strangely, it seems to me that the chemistry community has applied a similar approach to microwave heating of chemical reactions. Wading through the resultant swathe of reports is a time-consuming and frustrating experience for any chemist who just wants to know how to undertake their next synthetic step - albeit faster, cleaner and with less washing up than ever before. 

To this end, Microwaves in organic and medicinal chemistry provides a superb reference tool for any interested chemist using, or thinking of using, microwave assisted organic synthesis on an occasional or regular basis. The text is clear, well-written and gives an authoritative discussion of the field. It misses little in the way of technical or chemical detail and will almost certainly inform the reader in the particular methodology or transformation they wish to implement. 

The first four chapters give a nicely detailed account of how microwave heating works, modern hardware and the processing technologies that can be coupled to the heating system. For the technophobes amongst us, jumping straight to the fifth chapter avoids all such nonsense and the reader can just find out exactly how and why microwaves can help in their chemistry. Finally, to ensure the reader can access every detail imaginable, the authors appear to have made a heroic effort in the last two chapters to reference the majority of the hundreds of articles in the field published during 2002-05, divided into two general categories of individual synthetic steps and combinatorial/high-throughput regimes.  

For the beginner or a microwave regular, this book provides an excellent outline of the state of play in this field. If you want to know whether a particular microwave reaction has been tried, or you need a guide on how to do it, this is the place to look. On the other hand, if you just want to reheat your lasagne you might want to go elsewhere.